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Provision for LRT in Aeropod project
Published on: Friday, September 04, 2015
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Provision for LRT in Aeropod project
Kota Kinabalu: The foundation has been laid for a Light Rail Transit (LRT) service to materialise in Sabah in the near future through the ongoing RM3 billion Aeropod development project under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), even though developer SP Setia is not the commercial body undertaking the project."We have planned the place for the future. We may not be doing it, but we made the provision through the infrastructure. The upper concourse of the new railway system had been designed for a future LRT as it will have the similar line as the railway system, but they connect at a high level.

"This has been approved by City Hall," Aeropod Deputy General Manager Chan Tah Seong, told Daily Express.

"We have actually submitted plans to show the proof that you can adjust the roof and the facility can be used for a LRT system," he added, acknowledging the scepticism that was faced by the firm when it first mooted the idea, especially from the Sabah state government. "City Hall was not convinced at first, asking 'can it be done?' So, our people with the architects had to physically demonstrate that when other developers come along, the project is feasible," he said.

"Though it is based on the State Government's plan for the facility, I think we are ready," Chan said, adding that the firm was at an advanced level of the development, liaising with the State Railways Department (JKNS) on the coordination and placement of the tracks as well as the building of its headquarters.

JKNS had requested for a few extra railway lines as well, adding that the current ones would be a good starting point.

The first phase of the mixed development project, which includes the preparation of the infrastructures as well as the construction of the JKNS headquarters at the present station, is nearing completion.

The initial stage of developing the new railway system was done with the new workshop and a block of staff quarters in Kinarut. The second stage is the completion of the new railway stations and the headquarters for JKNS and the commissioning of a revised railway alignment to suit the new railway station locations.

Chan, who had also overseen the 20.8-acre SP Setia Walk development for seven years in Puchong, Selangor, has been in the state for over six months to oversee the Aeropod project, which is the company's maiden project in Kota Kinabalu.

He added that the train network was an important public transportation in developed countries, and when efficiently managed, could connect the public to their destinations fast as well as saving them the hassle of parking.

"When you go to developed countries, the train is the main transport; people don't drive cars. It is reliable and can transport a huge number of people in a short time.

"Hopefully, our project would be key in this development," Chan said.

The project located along Jalan Kepayan-Tanjung Aru is directly opposite the international airport, spanning approximately 60 acres of prime land in Kota Kinabalu.

However, one third of the land was dedicated to the railway system while around 40 acres had been allocated for development, said Chan.

"It is already a tourist spot, we are going to ride on that and facilitate the growth using the railway station as a landmark and the integrated development," he added.

The firm has also committed to building a flyover by end of this year aimed at easing the exit and entry to the heart of the Aeropod development project.

"This has been briefed to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, subject to the JKR's approval, we will commence this year," he said.

Chan explained that currently, people who entered the railway station needed to U-turn back, which was quite dangerous. The flyover would lead them to the residential area as well as eliminate the need to U-turn.

He conveyed hope that once the flyover had been completed, it would give visual assurance to Sabahans on the rest of the development plans on the cards.

Chan also addressed the business model of Aeropod, which approached the market in a holistic manner.

"SP Setia has been focused very much on commercial development. However, we follow the Live, Learn, Work, Play model. If people only work in this new developments, the catchment would be very small. Being a standalone would leave you waiting for others to come in and we may not be able to sustain the market.

"We have a different approach. We have an internal catchment which is the residential area at the back of the project. But, people wouldn't want to move there due to a few retail offices there. Therefore the integrated development comes in.

"Our concept can be different. For example, the gym. The gyms in condos can be very small, it is just a feature.

However, we encourage lifestyle living. You can join the gyms which are within walking distance at the mall within the development. You are safe, you just park your car and take your bag and just come down.

"The idea is to make it convenient," said Chan, adding that the firm would be scouting for investors to operate the hotels which would be part of the Aeropod.

According to Chan, the project would be having a nine-storey boutique hotel as well as a four-star hotel.

Job creation would be another area of advantage as, according to Chan, local contractors had been appointed as part of the project.

"We are getting all the domestic contractors and also planning to get a batching plant on site," he added.


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